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president is going to take the lead on this. his cabinet is going to fix it. and america has to get prepared. we have the answers. let's get this fix. >> we will see what he says. we are looking forward to the speech. my thanks to dan lundgren and sheilah jackson lee. fran townsend, gloria berger, jeanne meserve. ruben, i didn't know had you this longtime relationship with davidgerger. >> i do. >> that's a heck after professor to have. my thanks to all of you with "the situation room with wolf blitzer." >> happening now, president obama set to take responsibility for the failed christmas terror attack. stand big to bring you his remarks live. you will see them and you will hear them here in "the situation room." along with the new high-level briefings on the investigation. our coverage will be live and extensive. we are told that the administration's mistake will be laid out, warts and all. just ahead. in-depth analysis as only cnn
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can bring you. our national security experts and our correspondents around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." president obama has been promising accountability for mistakes that almost led to a terror attack on his watch. just a short while from now, this hour, expected to say in so many words that the buck stops with him. will that satisfy critics who say someone should be fired? or several people should be fired. let's go right to our white house correspondent, dan lothian. set the scene for us. supposed to come out in around a half hour. smart? >> that's right. i'm told by senior administration officials that the president is putting in -- on the finishing touches on that speech. and as you pointed out of the open of the show, wolf, the president will -- first time
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take direct responsibility for his administration's mistakes. this is something that we have heard from other administration officials during that meeting on tuesday around that table. we were told by the white house that they each took responsibility for the failings in their departments. but the president has not done that. the president expected to come out and say here are the warts. i'm spob. the one thing that the president will not do according to senior administration official is fire anyone. there will be month finger pointing at all. the president believing that this is a time to lay out the pacts, to figure out what went wrong and to fix the problems. so there won't be anyone that will be pyred. this seems to go against what the president had said earlier that the people would be held responsible for for these mistakes. there would be ful responsibility here but that this white house saying what the president is doing is holding accountable a system to make sure that it works. these mistakes are not repeated. >> dan, the president was supposed to be delivering the speech at 1:00 p.m. eastern.
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it is now scheduled for 4:30 p.m. eastern. do we know why the delay? >> reporter: the senior administration official told me that it takes time to work through this document which, of course, as we pointed out, it is unclassified document we will be getting but classified as highly classified. so it takes time to go through that document to move it to unclassified that's why i'm told there has been this delay. >> the former president of the united states, bill clinton, take it, has been spending time with the president today at the white house. what do weigh know about this? >> you know, it is interesting because we saw him come here to the white house to have a meeting with the president. we asked about that when we saw him arrive here. we were told that he came and was simply in town. and came here to stop by and meet with the president and also meet with other officials here at the white house. we don't know if he's still here. . beyond that we don't know anything else about that meeting. it does seem interesting the timing of this while this is all taking place, the former president, bill clinton did come by the white house. >> stand by.
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we will be getting back to you. once again, we are awaiting the president. he's supposed to come out around 4:30 p.m. eastern, 27 minutes or so from now. let's bring in our -- our panel, national security contributor, fran townsend, former homeland security adviser to president bush. also with us, national security analyst peter bergen. senior political analyst, gloria borger. our homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve. guys, thanks very much for coming in. this report that the head of the national counterterrorism center, michael leitner, he went on vacation a day or two after this incident. this failed incident in detroit. how much trouble are you hearing this head of this national counterterrorism center might be in? >> well, it is going to draw fire from critics on capitol hill who feel hey, he's one of the key players. he was supposed to be pulled -- pulling the intelligence together. what do you mean he left town? we are told he didn't leave until the day after christmas. we are told he had secure communication was the white house with the nctc and others
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while he was away. that he kept in touch. but it is going to definitely draw criticism. the white house said no firings, no heads will roll. he would appear to be safe from that perspective but i think the fallout on capitol hill is what you will want to watch. >> he took office, fran, during the bush administration to take charge of this national counterterrorism center. just remind our viewers what this center is supposed to do because it was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 commission. >> that's right. mike is a former navy pilot, harvard university grad. i mean, very bright guy. very committed to the mission. >> columbia undergraduate. >> thank you. the national counterterrorism center is really a product of the 9/11 commission report and the whole idea here was to bring access to all of the information across the entire government related to terrorism into one place. so that no only could you make
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sure you had the right dots, but that they could be connected. we heard the president speak at length. this was not the pre-9/11 problem of not sharing. this was not the pre-9/11 problem of not having enough dots. actually had so many dots that it is a little overwhelming, i suspect. this was a problem of connecting the dots. so i think you are going to so the president very focused in terms of going forward on how do you make sure you connect them. >> the uproar, a bit after an uproar, went on vacation a day or two after the failed incident. what's that say to you? >> well, look, he does -- i'm sure he had secure communications. i think you are going the see a lot of people inside the administration checking their attendance, time records to see who was in town, who wasn't in town and who had communications. after all, this is not a real concern of the president personally. the president was in hawaii but he takes all of his office with him practically. he can do his job. the question is can you actually lead an organization whether it is the national counterterrorism center, dni, cia, can you
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actually lead an organization remotely? and i -- i agree with jeanne. there will be an awful lot of fire on capitol hill about this. >> i think you are probably right. stand by. we are awaiting the president of the united states. he's going to be making remarks shortly at the white house. and it will be followed by a briefing from some of his top homeland security and counterterrorism specialists, janet napolitano, john brennan, head of the counterterrorism. chief counterterrorism adviser to the president. he will be briefing reporters as well. you will hear it. you will see it all live here in "the situation room." even as we await the president, the suspect in that failed bombing is preparing for his day in court. we are going to have the latest on his hearing and charges he faces. and we also now have the first surveillance video from that security breach at the newark, new jersey, airport on sunday night. we are going to tell you okay, class, our special guest is here -- ellen page.
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(announcer) we understand. host: could switching to geico 15% or more on car insurance? host: does charlie daniels play a mean fiddle? ♪ fiddle music charlie:hat's how you do it son. vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. we are waiting the president and he will be in the state dining room. not eating. he will be speaking about counterterrorism and the failed airline attack on christmas day. stand by. we are going to have live coverage of that. let's go to jack cafferty in meantime. another busy day here. >> let's recap. man's father in nigeria goes to the u.s. embassy there and warns that his son has become
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radicalized. he went to yemen to be part of some kind of jihad. and that he's concerned his son might want to do the united states harm. this is called a clue. the man's son subsequently buy as ticket. pays $3,000 cash. no coat. no luggage. these are more clues. he's allowed to eventually board a flight for detroit and then tries to blow it up. the u.s. intelligence official has enough to stop the suspect before he ever got on that plane. but that they didn't. they said they knew all along that al qaeda and yemen wanted to attack the u.s. homeland. but that they failed to connect the dots. turns out the top official in charge of analyzing terror threats important this country went on a skiing vacation a day or two after the attempted blowing up of that airliner going into detroit. then a few days later, another man breaches security at newark airport. resulting in a version of a keystone kops movie. terminal lockdown, thousands of people stranded and they all
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have to be rescreened. nobody could find the guy who breached security because, you ask, among other things, the security cameras weren't working properly and, in fact, hadn't been working for several days. the upshot of all this, the transportation security administration has taken responsibility for the security breach. that officer has been reassigned to nonscreening duties. in other words, the guy that caused all of that chaos at newark airport still has his job. so do all the officials in charge of protecting the flying public. and we, chump as we are, pay their salaries. here's the question. how safe do you feel when flying? go to post comb on my blog. >> i love it, jack. when you rooep recap, as you always do, a quick question to you, jack, before i let you go. we are told the president is going to accept responsibility for this situation. smart idea on his part? >> well, yeah, that's fine. i think he's a stand-up guy.
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nobody's -- nobody has taken a bullet for this. we had two major screwups in five or six days and all of the people in charge of preventing this stuff are still drawing a paycheck. i don't think that would happen at cnn or general motors or ibm and it shouldn't happen where the safety of the flying public is concerned, in my humble opinion. >> i think that all those people responsible for failing to predict what major nidal hassan did allegedly at f hood, texas, they are all still working, too. getting their salaries. there were plenty of warnings there. >> yet, you know, eight-plus years since 9/11. i think we made some progress. when something like this happens, there has to be some kind of message september to the people who are doing this work. this is important. you have got to pay attention. i think the way you communicate that is you put a paycheck or two in yep i did and that gets everybody's attention. >> yeah.
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one -- one link that's common between both of these incidents, detroit and ft. hood, this -- u.s. born radical cleric in yemen that had ties with both of the men. all right, jack. stand by. we are also -- want to remind your viewers, standing by for the president. he will be speaking in about 15 minutes, we are told, from now, expected to take responsibility for that failed airline terror attack on christmas. his homeland security team. they will be laying out in detail the miss thanks that were made. looking at the live pictures coming in from the state dining room where the president will be speaking. he will go to that microphone over there. we will hear what he has to say polling by briefings of his top adviser. right now we are also tracking that terror connection in yemen. our international security correspondent paula newton is there on the scene for us. paula, i understand that you have been learning more about abulmutallab's relationship and
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as i pointed out with the ft. hood shooter. what have you learned? >> reporter: the key thing here now, yemeni officials can't confirm about -- did they just speak did they talk about shared views? or what else happened? did he provide something more n the issue here is not so much as to whether they met. they established that. but here on the ground, yemeni officials and american counterparts want to know did he spread his roots to being something more for al qaeda and the u.s. have its back turned and actually turned into more of an operative and be able to recruit people and actually make them operational for al qaeda. >> he was seen as sort of, i guess, a motivator, inspirational leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula as opposed to an operational
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figure. someone that would actually, for example, present the -- explosives to a jihadist getting ready to try to kill some folks. smart? >> reporter: yeah. inspiration about -- talking about somebody that speaks flawless english and from new mexico and speaks like in one from back home. he would then, i they believe, what they are trying to find evidence is were he spread that to developing perhaps training camps that he runs. trying to get his hands on powerful explosives. testing those explosives. doing all this with the protection of his tribe here in yemen. his tribe having control. a no-go area for the government. this is what they are trying to determine, wolf. lit take several more weeks. >> i want to get back to paula. she in yemen for us. we will be speaking with her, obviously, throughout these hours. peter bergen is here and knows a lot about this. this connection between the two
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individuals, the detroit -- the detroit, nigerian that tried to blow up the plane allegedly in detroit. and major nidal hasan at ft. hood. is it a compaincidenccoincidenc? december 23rd, he received an e-mail from major hasan in no of 2008 with the question is it okay to kill fellow soldiers. that's a pretty direct question. so all of this discussion about remembering -- there was up to 120 e-mail the fbi looked at. they were regarded as being professional questions that somebody in his role might have. well, that doesn't strike me as the typical professional question is it okay to kill my fellow soldiers. not only were the mistakes made and the farouk case but there are -- emerging mistake in the major hasan case. >> i suspect his name will surface in connection with others as well. we are going pick up that thought as we await the
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president of the united states. he's getting ready in about six, seven, eight minutes from now. we are told to go to the white house state dining room and address the american people, address the world on the lessons learned so far in this case. our coverage will continue. some people say it's the rich, volcanic soil m. that makes our potatoes so special. or maybe the pure water. whatever it is, idaho potatoes are a delicious part of a healthy diet. with zero fat or cholesterol, and only 110 calories, and they taste great. a great value, only about ¢.25 each. always look for the grown in idaho seal. genuine idaho potatoes, from the best earth on earth. for my arthritis, i use
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we are awaiting the president of the united states. he will go to the white house state dining room will. you see the flag and podium.
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he will be addressing the nation on this terror threat that's followed in detroit, failed bomb plot in detroit on christmas day. our coverage will be extensive. stand by for that. let's check in with fred with whitfield. this is what triggered all this frustration for the travelers. airports surveillance tapes show when a security guard briefly abandoned his post, a startling to say good-bye to his companion slipped under the rope of that terminal. the guard has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. a man suspected of opening fire at a st. louis factory today worked there and was suing the company. the early morning shooting at the swiss banked abb group manufacturing plant immediately killed at least there people and critically wounded other. the alleged shooter was part of a federal lawsuit over retirement losses.
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authorities now say that he's dead. that case went to trial tuesday in kansas city. en route to pakistan today, senator mccain and joe lieberman are defending missile strikes there as critical in the war on terrorism and the u.s. military uses unmanned predator drones to gather information and launch strikes on suspected terrorist targets in the region. drone strikes killed at least 13 suspected militants in pakistan yesterday. following last week's deadly suicide bomb attack on a cia base in afghanistan. >> thank you. we are awaiting the president of the united states. he's getting ready to speak. we will have live coverage coming up. you have seen the live picture coming in from the white house. that suspect is set to make his first appearance in court. we are talking about the alleged detroit bomber whose effort failed. that's why you should consider...
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let me reset what's going on. that's the white house. exterior of the white house, as you can obviously see. we are going to go inside to the white house state dining room. that's where the president of the united states in about five minutes, we are told, will walk in and he will deliver remarks on this report. he's releasing on what happened christmas day the lessons learned, immediate terrorism threat facing the united states. once that briefing -- once his
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remarks are over with in the state dining room, some of his top national security and homeland adviser will go there, the white house press briefing room. janet napolitano, secretary of homeland security, she will brief reporters as will john brennan, the president's counterterrorism adviser. he will brief reporters. we will have extensive live coverage of both of these events. the president's remarks followed by the briefings. we have the best political team on television. all of our homeland security analysts and experts, they are all here as well. we are assessing what's going on. let me bring in david gergen, senior political analyst right now. david, we heard earlier in this interview with "usa today" general jim jones, the president's national security advisers, saying the american public will be shocked by what they are about to release. you saw that interview. >> i did, indeed. that's given all of us a heightened sense of anticipation to find out exactly what's in there. we have been speculating for
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days about what happened. the facts about what information was held and what went wrong and where the holes were and so to have a better sense of it if heads should roll or whatever. i think it is extremely important, wolf, that the president seems to be taking personal responsibility for this. as you know, the question was raise ad couple of days ago. presidents do take responsibility. president reagan with the marine barracks being blown up in lebanon, he came out and said look, you know, we have an investigation under way but i want to make it clear, i'm the official that takes responsibility, i'm the top person. just as kennedy did after the bay of pigs. it is an important step for a president to make. put himself out in front of troops and helps morale inside and shows a certain kind of stand-up quality in a leader. i think there are many elements of this statement that are going to be important for us to listen for. >> xwlor yeah borger is here as well. senior political analyst. if the president does do that and says you know what, i'm the
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commander in chief, i'm responsible for the failures, the breakdown, failure to connect the dots or whatever, you agree with david -- >> i do. >> ultimately benefit him politically? >> well, i do agree with david. i think that today it will benefit him politically. there is another side to this which is the president united states has to say this is how we are going to fix it. this is what went wrong. maybe we are going to change the watch list. maybe we are going to change the visas. maybe i'm going to make sure that we didn't know enough about al qaeda in yemen. we should have known more about al qaeda and yemen. this is what we are doing to fix it. accountability comes in there. if he's accountable, he will say he's accountable. then the question comes who else is accountable. it doesn't necessarily mean that heads will roll today or tomorrow. but if there has to be a revamping of the national counterterrorism center, they are going to have do that. there are two parts to this. i'm responsible. i'm the president. buck stops here. here's how we need to fix this or i told my people we need to fix this.
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>> are you surprised, david gergen, no one -- at least not yet, as of tuesday when i asked the chief of staff to the national security council, dennis mcdonough, no one offered to resign? no one offer ad letter of resignation? >> i am surprised by that. i thought somebody would if he forward. there are two surprises i have. one is the small surprise. i -- i had heard high praise from michael lighter at the white house yesterday. and was told he was safe. i'm surprised in retrospect he went on ski vacation two days after the bomber was apprehended. the big question for me, big surprise, why in the devil has it taken so long to get this -- get that's organizations straight? homeland security and now at the national counterterrorism center. we -- it has been over eight years since 9/11. why is it so hard to get the organizations straightened out and settled down? >> let's let fran townsend,
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homeland security adviser, that used two in the bush white house, explain. >> what you are hearing again and again from officials, there have been many improvements. what the president has told us is that we collected the dots this time. they were shared. those are both improvements from pre-9/11. the problem this time is a different point in the system and that is they weren't all put together. there's a lot of information. you know, by enforcing information sharing, what happens is that the nctc, national counter terrorism center, becomes a wash of information. it becomes a question of how do you prioritize what's important. and looking back, everything looks -- the important things are very obvious. i will tell you that i think what you are going to see is the president, as gloria mentions, he will say how we are going to fix it. one of the things they will have to say is how do we prioritize this information. we do so we know we are connecting those most important dots and acting on them first. >> you know, i -- bring in jeanne meserve. had you a chance to speak with the homeland security secretary,
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janet napolitano yesterday. a lot of our viewers are wondering how will this affect me, whatever recommendations, whatever changes, they announce today. how will this affectfullying, for example, here in the united states and round the world? >> it will be terrible. they are increasing the size of the no-fly list. that means they are going to be more con faugs over names. people with similar names who get pulled aside. there is going to be intensive screening. no doubt about it. particularly if you are flying in from overseas. she told me yesterday they aren't going to change the basic rules. there aren't going to be restrictions on powders. they aren't going to ban liquids or anything like that. but they are going to be dotting every i and crossing every t. at least one hopes they will when you see what happened at newark, it raises questions. >> you say it will be terrible. explain what you mane. >> time consuming. you are going on have to get to the airport earlier and take more time to get through that checkpoint. and people were already getting there hours, hour and half, two hours early.
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you have to push that back even further now to make allowances for the increased scrutiny that you and your possessions are going to have. >> people around the world will say whatever it takes to make sure me and my family we are secure, we will do it. >> that's what they are saying now. will they be saying that in six months when they are still going through at it at the airport? >> as david was saying earlier, we spent so much money on trying to fix this system. and yet, what really saved us this time was the vigilance of the people on that airplane. and not the system itself. and so they are going to go back to say what have we done since 9/11. now, i spoke with somebody of the intelligence community today who said that -- it wasn't information sharing as fran points out. it is what they are saying now is that that's dots didn't look like dots to them. because you had a missing child on one continent and you had an assassination attempt against a saudi on another con tint. you had a lack of information about al qaeda in yemen.
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and so they weren't really aware -- they were looking at dots that should have been connected. i don't know how you fix that. you would know better. >> we are told now that the president is only a minute away or so from walking up to that microphone over there in the state dining room at the white house. this statement by the president, his remarks, originally they were supposed to be delivered at 1:00 p.m. eastern. now it is after 4:30 p.m. i don't know if the president will explain why the delay occurred in his remarks. he is going to go forward. as soon as the president is done with that statement, we will go to the white house briefing room. there will be a separate briefing from his top adviser there. homeland security secretary as well as his counterterrorism adviser from the white house. all of this will be seen and heard live here in "the situation room." the president of the united states will be coming out momentarily. we are told only a few seconds away to deliver this statement. and once again, we anticipate he
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will take personal responsibility in effect saying the buck stops with him. harry truman once famously said and he will accept that responsibility since this incident did occur on his watch. he may have been on vacation in hawaii with his family. and so many others were on vacation. but he was certainly on top of this together with his national security at homeland security advisers who were on the scene. either in hawaii or in the white house situation room briefing him what was going on. the president will walk in. the other day when we heard him, he was very somber and very serious. we will see his tone right now. >> good afternoon, everybody. immediate reviews i ordered after the failed christmas terrorist attack are now complete. i was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform. and i believe it is important the american people understand the new steps that we are taking to prevent attacks and keep our
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country safe. this afternoon my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser john brennan will discuss his review into our terrorist watch list system. how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for america. the steps we are going to take to prevent that from happening again. secretary of homeland security janet napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures. how that terrorist board ad plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people and how we will strengthen aviation security going forward. so today i want to just briefly summarize their conclusions and the steps that i have ordered to address them. in our ever changing world, america as first line of defense is timely and accurate intelligence that is shared, integrated and analyzed and acted upon quickly and effectively. that's what the intelligence
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reform is after the 9/11 attacks largely achieved. that's what our intelligence community does every day. but, unfortunately, that's not what happened in the lead-up to christmas day. it is now clear that shortcomings occurred in three broad and compounding ways. first, although our intelligence community have learned a great deal about the al qaeda affiliate in yemen, called al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, that we knew they sought to strike the united states and that they were recruiting operatives to do so. the intelligence community did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland. second, this contributed to a larger failure of analysis. a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community which together could have revealed
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abulmutallab was planning an attack. third, this in turn fed into shortcomings in the watch listing system which resulted in this person not being placed on the no-fly list. thereby allowing him to board that plane in amsterdam for detroit. in summary the u.s. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had. that's why we took swift action in the immediate days following christmas including reviewing and updating the terrorist watch list system and adding more individuals to the no-flay list. and directing our embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warnings of individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist ties. tad i'm directing a series of additional corrective steps
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across multiple agencies. broadly speaking they fall into four areas. first i'm directing that our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively. not just most of the time. but all of the time. we must follow the leads that we get. we must pursue them until plots are disrupted. and that means assigning clear lines of responsibility. second, i'm directing intelligence reports especially those involving potential threats to the united states be distributed more rapidly and more widely. we can't sit on information that could protect the american people. third, i'm directing we strengthen the analyst cal process. how our analysis -- how our analysts processed and integrate the intelligence they receive. my director of national intelligence will take the lead in improving our day to day
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efforts. my intelligence advisory board will examine the longer-term challenge of sifting through vast universes of intelligence and data in our information age. finally, i'm ordering an immediate effort to strengthen the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watch list. especially the no-fly list. we must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes while still facilitating air travel. taken together these reforms will improve the intelligence ability to share, integrate, analyze and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively. in short, they will help our intelligence community do its job even better and protect american lives. but even the best intelligence can identify in advance every individual who will do us harm. so we need the security and our airports, ports, and borders and through our partnerships with other nations to prevent
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terrorists from entering america. at the amsterdam airport, abulmutallab was subject to the same screening as other passengers. he was required to show his documents, including a valid u.s. visa. his bag was x-rayed. he passed through a metal detector. but a metal detector can't detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes. as secretary napolitano will ex-plan screening tech no, ma'amies that may have detected the explosives were in use at the airport but not at the specific checkpoints this he passed through. indeed, most airports in the world. and in the united states do not yet have these technologies. there's no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into america each day. domestic and international. it will require significant investments in many areas. that's why even before the christmas attack we increased investments in homeland security and aviation security. this includes an additional $1 billion in new systems and
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technologies we need to protect our airports. more baggage screening, more passenger screening and more advanced explosive detection capabilities, including those that can improve our ability to detect the kind of explosives used on christmas. these are major investments. they will make our skies safer and more secure. as i announced this week, we have taken a range of steps to improve aviation screening and security since christmas including new rules for how we handle visas within the government and enhanced screening for passengers flying from or through certain countries. today i'm directing that the department of homeland security take additional steps, including strengthening our international partnerships and to improve aviation screenings and security around the world. and greater use of the advanced explosive detection technologies we already have and including imaging technology, and working aggressively and in cooperation with the department of energy and our national labs to develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies.
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now, there is, of course, no foolproof solution. as we develop new screening technologies and procedures, our adversaries will seek new ways to abate them as was shown by the christmas attack. the never ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary. that's why what the steps are designed to do. we will continue to work with congress to ensure our intelligence and homeland security and law enforcement communities have resources to need to keep the american people safe. i ordered the two immediate reviews so we could take immediate action to secure our country. in the weeks and months ahead we will continue a sustained and intensive effort of analysis and assessment that we leave no stone unturned and in seeking better ways to protect american people. i have repeatedly made it clear in public with the american people and in private with may national security team, i will
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hold my staff and our agencies, and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform the responsibilities at the highest levels. now, at this stage in the review process, it appears this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization. but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies. that's why in addition to the corrective efforts that i have ordered, i directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts. we will measure progress. john brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. all of these agencies and their leaders are responsible for implementing these reforms. and all will be held accountable if they don't. moreover, i am less interested in passing out blame than i am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer.
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for ultimately the buck stops with me. as president i have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. when the system fails, it is my responsibility. over the past two weeks, we have been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against bep on our disruption and while passionings and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands. we are at war. we are at war against al qaeda. a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11. that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people. and that is plotting to strike us again. we will do whatever it takes to defeat them. we have made progress. al qaeda's leadership has hunkered down. we haved closely with partners including yemen to inflict major blows against al qaeda leaders. we have disrupted plots at home and abroad and saved american lives. we know that the vast majority
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of muslims reject al qaeda. but it is clear that al qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations and not just in the middle east but in africa and other places to do their bidding. that's why i directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. that's why we must communicate clearly to muslims around the world. that al qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and debt including the murder of fellow muslims. while the united states stands with those who seek justice in progress. to advance that progress we have sought new beginnings. with muslim communities around the world. one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect. and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share. to get an education, working with dignity. and live in peace and security. that's what america believes in. that's the vision that is far
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more powerful than the hatred of these violent i can troomists. here at home we will strengthen our defenses but we will not succumb to a siege mental that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values we cherish as americans. because great and proud nations don't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. that's exactly what our adversaries want and so long as i am president we will never hand them that victory. we will define the character of our country. not some band of small men tint on killing innocent men, women and children. and in this cause, every one of us and every american and every elected official can do our part. instead of giving in to cynicism and division let's move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. for now is not a time for partnership, it is a time for citizenship. a time to come together and work together. with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands. that's what it means to be strong in the face of violent
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extremists. that's how we will prevail in this fight. that's how we will protect our country and pass safer and stronger to the next generation. thanks very much. the president of the united states speaking for about 12, 13 minutes. the president making the point this is not a time, as you heard him, for the united states to hunker down, not a time for partisanship. time for citizenship. also saying that ultimately as we anticipated the buck stops with me. let me just recap what will happen now. the white house is going to be releasing a formal report on the immediate lessons learned. what happened and where the u.s. goes from here in terms of homeland security. and national security and fighting terrorism. and there will be a briefing coming up. we anticipate within a half hour or so from now at the white house briefing room. the president's homeland security secretary, janet napolitano will brief reporters.
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the president's top homeland security and counterterrorism adviser john brennan will brief reporters as well. you will see that and hear it live in the situation room. let me get reaction to what we heard from the president. david gergen served four presidents. what do you think, david? what do you think of what he said? >> it is going to take a while to digest this one, wolf. it was complex. i thought the president taking personal responsibility the buck stops here was forthright and good. welcomed. i think it was harder to understand the intelligence failures and general jones spoke we would have a certain shock about what went wrong. there was no shock presented in this. maybes in in the report. i didn't think the president -- i thought that what he described about what happened and what went wrong in the intelligence was sort of a bureaucratic language to it that was hard to penetrate. what's he really saying here about what went wrong? therefore, it is a little hard
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to understand what he's -- is going on correct it. i thought it was unclear about the screening. two of the things i specifically disagree with the notion of the first line of defense against terrorism is intelligence. first line against -- against it to go after al qaeda. he got to that at the end of the statement. that seems to me that's critical. but also, wolf, this was something very important about the notion of the muslim al qaeda engagement in the recruitment of loners. that's clearly something now in the hasan case and this case and others we are seeing that's very much got the attention of the administration, how they are using the internet and then sort of the cult-like radicalization programs in yemen and perhaps elsewhere in the world to turn this nigerian into a human missile against the united states. and that's something new that we are having to struggle with.
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i was glad he singled that out and brought it to our attention. >> general jones, the president's national security adviser, what he said in that interview with "usa today," he said once the american public reads the report in black and white on printed pages, they will be shocked in many is expect by the detail of those doc d dots not apparently connected. you were listening very carefully. what did you think? >> look, i don't think that there was much surprise in it, wolf. since the christmas day attempt, we have heard a lot about the facting there is not sufficient disinsemination. we have heard about -- week elected it and we shared and it we just didn't understand it. we didn't connect it. so the president talked about the -- broad areas that he outlined, he wasn't on the no-fly list, president wants to strengthen the watch list, these are all things i think we expected to hear from him. it will be interesting -- i was struck by his notion when he got to accountability he accepted
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responsibility. i think that's a good thing. and i do think this that's important for morale of those in the fight. the interesting thing to me, though, was this notion of asking for internal accountability in the agencies. i can tell you, wolf, from having served in the government as a career official for many decades, the career folks who are in the frontlines, who serve in very dangerous places, not just here in washington, who have heard that as what's going to happen inside to the career folks if there is not going to be accountability at the political level, does this mean we will look for the career folks to hold accountable and that will make people very nervous. >> tom fuentes is hear. is that how you read or heard, understood what the president was saying? >> yes. i would also like to add he mentioned strengthening our international partnerships. i don't think enough has been made on this particular issue because of aviation is a global industry. following world war ii, there was a convention in chicago where leaders from around the world came together and it was decided to set up the three
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letter designator for airports around the world pipt was decided english would be the standard language used by all flight crews, time on the, ground crews around the world. we need a new summit along the lines to determine what security measures should be made and worldwide requirements. which screening requirements should be made worldwide requirements. i think that that's where -- we are zeroing in on the intel community and sounded to me like upgrading your computer system. a new system will be quicker, bigg bigger, faster. >> what the president said was this was not the fault -- this mistake, not the fault of a single individual or single organization within the u.s. government. but it went across the board. there were a lot of mistakes that were made. sort of -- no one specifically is to blame but a lot of people are to blame. >> separate from that, we are still going to need a system that operates on a global basis and need the other countries to agree to do the security measures and share fright lists and do reporting on suspects that should be checked out.
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all of those things are going to require essentially a worldwide training ground. >> he said -- gloria borger, he said he's not interested in laying blame now. he's -- pointed out ultimately the buck will stop, he says, with me and when -- the system fails it will be my responsibility. he was under pressure, you think, to say that. >> i think he was. i think he's president of the united states and i think -- you know the buck does stop with him. i think what was -- also very interesting to me about what he said was no only we didn't connect the dots, but he also said we didn't understand the dots. so it seems to me we gather so much intelligence now. we gather so much that -- amount of information we xwaer is so large, the question is do we know how to manage that amount of information that we have and do we know that something is important when we see it. do we know the right way to analyze it? >> the end of the year, he reached out to the muslim community around the world. and you know this is not a fight the sum is having with you. we want to work with you. is that going to make much of a
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difference? >> i think the muslim world community is making its own decisions about al qaeda. i mean, support for suicide bombing in country after country is catering support for al qaeda and bin laden. this is -- in tend it will be decided by muslims and they are making their own decisions partly because of the barbarity of al qaeda. support in pakistan the last several years, dropped 33% to 5%. taliban inflicted this horrible campaign on pakistan domestically. >> fellow muslim. >> thousands of civilians. i want to make one point about 9/11. no official in the bush administration apologized, took responsibility, resigned or fired for the biggs national security problem we have ever had. and that's merely an observation. >> i want everybody to stand by. we are awaiting the briefing over at the white house press briefing room. secretary of homeland security, janet napolitano, tom brennan.
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they will be walk something and filling had in the blanks, you could say on what the president said broad stroke. they will go into specifics. how will this impact all of us who like to fly, for example, whether it will be the changes that we will shortly see and feel as we go on our travels. our coverage will continue. jack cafferty is standing by with the cafferty file right after this. d go and check my credit score ♪ ♪ now all they let me have is this dinosaur ♪ ♪ hello hello hello can anybody hear me? ♪ ♪ i know i know i know i shoulda gone to ♪ ♪ free credit report dot com! ♪ that's where i shoulda gone! coulda got my knowledge on! ♪ ♪ vo: free credit score and report with enrollment in triple advantage.
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now that the president has spoken, we awaiting a briefing from the top homeland security and counter zs terrorism advisers, janet napolitano and john brennan getting ready to walk into the white house press briefing room. they will be briefing reporters on the specific details. they have just released the summary of the president's report. we are going through that right
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now. we are die geoffing it. earlier in the day, general jim jones, president of national security adviser, said we would be shocked when we read and it will see if we are, in fact, shocked. let's go on jack cafferty. >> good t question we asked this hour is how safe do you feel when flying in light of the little glitches we have seen happen here in the last several weeks. john writes, i fly all the time for work. still much safer than driving a car. i'm tired of the fear in the media and the government about this one guy's failed attempt to blow up one flight out of 28,000 daily flights. i don't fear flying any more or any less because of this incident. matt in arizona says i feel safer flying now than i did before 9/11. what concerns me is the intelligence community's ability to connect the dots. the system sing overwhelmed. it needs stream leaning. amanda writes, i don't feel safe at all anymore. if tsa can't keep the security cameras function progressly, who is to say they will able to
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detect something hidden in someone's bag. i feel perfectly safe. still flying in the united states. yes, there were steps missed and things that should have been done. all in all air travel is still much safer than all other forms of transportation. joshua says i don't feel safe flying. these people are paying to protect us and failed a couple of times in a matter of weeks. i raesh spend my time taking the train. daniel says i fly weekly. 60% of the year and honestly, i feel very safe. i'm more scared of drunk drivers than terrorists. the odds of me dying at the hands of a former are far greater than the hands of the latter. peter in georgia writes get a grip, jack. it is still a hell of a lot safer to fly than drive. if you want the read more on the subject, got a lot of mail on this, go to my blog. >> jack, thank you. to our viewers, you are in "the situation room." breaking news. president obama says u.s. agencies across board failed to connect the dots that could have kept an alleged bomber off a
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u.s. airliner. moments from mao within the next minute on two we are told the homeland security secretary janet napolitano and top white house officials will tell us how the government plans to keep us all safe in the future. how that will unfold. we will have live coverage coming up. we are going live to yemen where cnn's paula newton has been retracing the footsteps of the airline bombing suspect. we are also going live to our senior international correspondent nic robertson. he has been in jordan investigating the radicalization of medical doctor who killed cia officers in afghanistan. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." >> all of these agencies and their leaders are responsible for implementing these reforms. and all will be held accountable if they don't. moreover, i am less interested in passing out blame than i am in learning from and correcting
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these mistakes to make us safer. for ultimately the buck stops with me. as president, i have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. and when the system fails, it is may responsibility. over the past two weeks, we have been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe bent on disruption. while passion and politics can obscure the hard work before us let's be clear about what the moment demands. we are at war. we are at war against al qaeda. >> the president of the united states, now we are told within the next minimum or so, the president's homeland security secretary janet napolitano and the president's counterterrorism at homeland security adviser john brennan, they will be briefing reporters. you are looking at live pictures from the white house briefing room. robert gibbs, white house press secretary, will introduce them, we are told. then they will make statements
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followed by the question and answer session. you will see it and hear it live here in the situation room. our analysts have been going through this report that's also just been released as we await the start of the briefing, peter bergen, had you a chance to read some of this already. did anything shock you yet? >> two most important findings are, one, that they could have identified mr. abulmutallab and prevented him from getting on the flight. two, despite the al qaeda in yemen and saudi arabia sort of larger ambitions, the intelligence committee did not put more resources into looking at that threat. you are always preparing for the last attack as it were. so al qaeda and yemen and al qaeda and saudi arabia have previously seemed to be capable of doing out of air operations and attack in yemen. i think these are the two most important findings that come out
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of this. >> as we await the start of the briefing over the white house, paula newton is standing by. she is in yemen. nic robertson is in ahman, jordan. paula newton, first to you. what more are we learning if anything on the connections between the suspected airline bomber in detroit, nigerian, and this the american-born radical cleric in yemen where you are? >> reporter: clearly what intelligence officials are finding out here, that as peter just said, umar farouk adulmutallab may have been one of the first people to present himself to al qaeda and arabian peninsula that outside operator. thrs attack outside of their fear in the arabian peninsula. balawi is a close link. they are trying to retrace abulmutallab's steps when he went missing from the end of september and still near the first week of december. what they want to know, though did he make casual contact with him on the internet or was it
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more dealt with explosions, training, other contact was top al qaeda officials. >> nic robertson is in jordan right now watching all of this. before you are headed off to jordan, nic, you were in the united kingdom. he had been a student, university college in london. got a degree in civil or mechanical engineering, i believe, civil engineering. what was british intelligence picking up on this nigerian? >> reporter: well, they were picking up he was making contact with people that they were already watching. people among the sort of 2,000 extremists that they -- britain's internal community services and others were watching. but what the british did was they made an assess many because he came up on their radar a couple of times. did he actually present the threat to the british government and the answer they came back with was no. so on any information that they
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would have shared generally at that time with the united states, they wouldn't have attach ad huge importance to. and because he didn't present a huge threat to britain, at least that was the assessment. perhaps it grew, expanding that sort of collaboration and we certainly know what he applied go to a bogus college in may last year, that's when he really flagged british officials there was something wrong because they had seen other would-be terrorists, plotters, trying to get into britain and go to bogus universities. they turned down his application and at that time they flagged him as a problem and banning him from coming into the country in the future. the british intelligence really over a period of time managed to build a picture he was a problem. >> nic, you are in jordan and spent a lot of time in pakistan, afghanistan, throughout the arab and muslim world. you just heard the president of the united states deliver his remarks. at the end, reaching out to the muslim world. saying this is not a war against you. this is a war against al qaeda.
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which is trying to kill some of the muslims at the same time. how will the president's remarks today play, you believe, in the arab and muslim world? >> i think a lot of people -- in this part of the world, they are going to look at what the president said. but they are also going to realize looking at the u.s. national interests and will look at all of those airports in saudi arabia and yemen and nigeria where people are going to have to -- if they want to travel with the united states, go through much tighter security checks than they would perhaps if coming from london or amsterdam in the future. they are going to say that makes muslims into second-class citizens. perhaps they are more educated part of the population here, they will say okay, while we understand the president might want to reach out to us, this is going to work against them. when you look at how al qaeda and other types of groups were used this information against the united states, you can really see how they will play on
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the minds of young people and say look, the united states is -- this is what they are doing, downgrading essentially to sort of quality of security at these airports and saying people need more checks. so you know, while the words are good, people are going to look at the actions more, wolf. >> i want you to stand by. quick question to paula newton. paula, you are in yemen right now. the u.s. government is trying to establish a working relationship with the yemeni government to make sure that they are engaged in trying to fight al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. actually, paula newton, hold on. stand by for that thought. we see robber gibbs is about to introduce the briefing. >> i want to first apologize for the delay in the events that have occurred over the past couple of hours. as you -- classifying how the complex documents take time and we wanted to get that right. you all should have either with you or in your in-box two separate documents that were e-mailed out.
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the first is summary of the white house review. which is that the declassified document i spoke of a second ago. secondly, a memo, three-page memo, signed by the president on corrective actions that had been ordered. we will hear momentarily from two individuals, secretary napolitano, from the department of homeland security, and john brennan, assistant to the president, for homeland security and counterterrorism. and after they speak, we will spend about a half an hour or so taking your questions. i know many of you have deadlines so if you need to sneak out of here, that is certainly fine to do. >> thank you, robert. good evening, everyone. as the president said today, following the attempted terrorist attack on christmas day, he directed me to conduct an immediate review of the watch
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listing system the nation use to keep terrorists from entering our country. he directed key department and agencies to provide their input to the review and i want to command secretary napolitano, blair and other leaders of the intelligence community for their cooperation, candor and support. now will he mo say that every department and organization provided the information that was needed. and that speech to the seriousness with which this administration takes what happened on christmas. it also speaks to our urgency and determination to make sure that this does not happen again. the review had three primary goals. to get the facts, find out what happened, identify the failures and shortcomings of what went wrong. to make recommendations on corrective action so we can fix the problems. and i want to address each of these areas. first the facts. as the president has described in his public remarks in the weeks and months leading up to the christmas attack, various components intelligence community have fragments of
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information about the strategic threat posed by al qaeda. the specific plot of umar farouk adulmutallab. it was known that aqap not only sought the strike u.s. targets in yemen as they had when they attacked our embassy in 2008, but that it also sought to strike the u.s. homeland. and indeed there was a threat stream of intelligence on this threat. it was known thank to the warnings of his father in november that abulmutallab had extremist views and his father feared he joined extremists. there was information about an individual now believed to be mr. newtal aband his association with al qaeda. these are among the fragments of intelligence that were available in the intelligence community christmas eve. before abulmutallab ever boarded the aircraft in amsterdam. central question is given the fragments of intelligence we did know why weren't they integrated and pieced together in a way that would have uncovered and
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disrupted the plot. that leads to the second line of inquiry. what went wrong? as the president described, this was not the failure of a single individual or single organization. yes, there was some human errors. but those errors were not the primary or fundamental cause of what happened december 25th. rather, this was a systemic failure across agencies and across organizations. i want to be very clear about this because there has been some confusion out there. in recent days it has been reported we saw the same failures before 9/11. or the same failure to share information and after eight years, why hasn't this been fixed? before 9/11, there was often reluctance or refusal to share information between departments and agencies. as a result, different agencies and analysts across the agencies were at times denied access to the critical information that could have stopped the tragic 9/11 attacks. over the past eight years, those issues have largely been resolved. that is not what happened here. this was not a failure to share
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information. and, in fact, our review found the intelligence agencies and analyst has the information they needed. no agency or individual was denied access to that information. so as the president has said, this was not a failure to collect or share intelligence. it was a failure to connect and integrate and understand the intelligence we have. we didn't follow up and prioritize stream of intelligence indicating al qaeda sought to strike our homeland because no one intelligence i y intyty or team or task force was assigned responsible for doing the followup investigation. the intelligence fell through the cracks. this happened in more than one organization. this contributed to the larger failure to connect the fragment of intelligence that could have revealed the thoughts of the extremist views and aqap's involvement with the nigerian. this in turn fed into short comings in the watch listing system. with human and technological which resulted in newtal abnot being placed on the watch list
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and allowing him to board a plane in amsterdam for detroit. while the watch listing system is not broken, how the intelligence community feeds information into that system and clearly needs to be strengthened. this brings us to the recommendations. how do we fix the problem? today the president is issuing a direct turf all the relevant agencies on the corrective actions he decided on. there are more than a dozen corrective steps and each is signed to an agency now responsible for their implementation. as the president said, they fall into four broad areas. first, he's directing our intelligence community immediately begin a responsibility for investigating all leads on high priority threats and so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively and so that plots are disrupted. second, he's directing intelligence reports, especially those involving potential threats to the united states, be distributed more rapidly and widely. third, he's directing that we strengthen the an littic process. director of national intelligence blair will take the
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lead in improving day-to-day efforts. the president's intelligence advisory board will exam tin challenge of identifying and analyzing intelligence among the increasingly vast universe of intelligence we collect. that challenge dealing with the volumes of information is growing every day. finally the president is ordering an immediate effort to strengthen the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watch list. especially the no-fly list. still we do a better job keeping dangerous people off airplanes. the president said he's going to hold all of us, staff, national security team, agencies, accountable for these reforms. national security staff will monitor their progress and the president has directed me to report back on the progress within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. i will do so. taken together these reforms going to improve the intelligence community's ability to do the job better and collect, share, integrate, analyze and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively. finally, i want to say that in every instance, over the past
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year, the intelligence community, homeland security community, and the law enforcement community, has done an absolutely outstanding and stellar job. in protecting the homeland and disrupting plots directed against us. it was in this one instance that we did not rise to that same level of competence and success. and, therefore the president has told us we must do better. i told the president today. i am the president's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism. and i told him that i will do better. we will do better as a team. thank you. >> thank you. i want to update all of you on the actions that the department of homeland security took immediately following the failed christmas day attack. and the longer-term recommendations that dhs made to the president in our preliminary
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report. these recommendations lay out how we will move forward and a number of areas that are critical in our efforts to protect air travel from terrorism. as many have already experienced, we have immediately strengthened screening requirements for individuals flying to the united states. every individual flying to the united states from anywhere in the world who has an itinerary or passport from nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or countries of interest is required to go through enhanced screening. and in addition, the majority of all other passengers on united states bound international flights will go through enhanced screening. at airports throughout the united states, we have deployed additional airport law enforcement officials, behavior detection officers, air marshals, and explosive detection canine teams. among other security measures. both seen and unseen. i want to express our thanks to
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the traveling public for their patience with these security measures. i want to thank as well the department of homeland security personnel who have been engaged on a day in and day out base toys implement them since christmas. today i would like to describe to you five of the recommendations that are included in our report to the president. first, there needs to be a re-evaluation and modification of the criteria and process used to create the terrorist watch lists. this will involve the department of homeland security and other members of the intelligence community. specifically the effort will include evaluating the process by which names are put on the no-ply and selectee lists. let me pause here a moment to say that the department of homeland security or day in ask day out with members of the
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intelligence community, these are dedicated men and women. all of them are dedicated to the safety of the united states. here as john has indicated, we simply had a systemic failure. now dhs, as you know, uses the list as the cornerstone of our efforts to prevent suspected terrorists from boarding airplanes bound for the united states. second, we will establish a partnership on aviation screening technology between dhs and the department of energy and its national laboratories. this will allow government to use the expertise of national labs have to develop new and more effective technologies. so we can react not only to known threats but also to proactively anticipate new ways by which terrorists could seek to board our aircraft. third, we should accelerate deployment of advanced imaging
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technology so we have greater capabilities to detect explosives like the ones used in the christmas day attack. we currently have 40 machines deployed throughout the united states in 2010 we are already scheduled to deploy 300 more. we may deploy more than that. but the -- tsa does not conduct screening overseas. and the christmas day incident underscored the screening procedures at foreign airports are critical to our safety here in the united states. therefore, we have to do all we can do to encourage foreign authorities to utilize the same enhanced technologies for aviation security. after all, there were passengers from 17 countries aboard flight 253. this is an international issue. not just one about the united states. fourth, we have to strengthen the presence and capacity of aviation law enforcement. on top of the measures we have
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already taken. this includes increasing the number of federal air marshals and we will begin by deploying law enforcement officers from across the department of homeland security to help fulfill this important role. and fifth, working with the secretary of state, we need to strengthen international security measures. and standards for aviation security. security measures abroad affect our security here at home. the deputy secretary of dhs and other top officials from my department have for the last several days been on a multicountry, multicontinent mission, meeting with top transportation and airport officials discussing ways to increase cooperation and security. later this month, i will be traveling to spain to meet with my european counterparts for what will be the first in a series of meetings with counterparts i believe will lead to a broad consensus on new international aviation security standards and procedures.
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these five recommendations that i had just described are important areas where dhs and other federal agencies are moving quickly to address concerns revealed by the attempted attack. added to the intelligence review, also under way, that john brennan just described, these are changes that will help us prevent another attack from ever advancing as far as the one did on christmas day. thank you. >> the president talked about using screening technologies. does he intend to deploy the body imaging for airports across the country? >> i think we lack at security as a system of layers. it is advanced screening technology. it is the magnometers which people are so familiar. it is canines. it is behavior detection officers. it is increased law enforcement
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presence, both uniformed and undercover. and it is that series of layers that we will be adding to the security we already have in our domestic airports in the wake of this incident. >> following up on that. you said 300 additional scanners will be deployed in 2010. would that plan -- was that plan before this event? you said more may be developed -- more may be deployed on top of that. how many more? how much will that cost? >> the answer is that it was planned before this. it was already in funding that the congress had appropriated for the tsa. with respect to how many more needs to be done, we will be working on that as part of our ongoing review as to how many are needed. again, i would caution you not to focus solely on that technology. as i just explained to elaine, this is a series of layers that
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we deploy and will be enhancing their deployment of at domestic airports. >> one followup if i can. both of you mentioned the word accountability and all three of you made a point it was several agencies and not just one person. but if several people and several agencies, who sing being held accountable now? >> jeff, i think as you -- as you heard the president now on a number of occasions, including today, take responsibility for the system, that we have right now. that's what led the president to ask these two individuals to conduct reviews. to seek where we fell down. and how we can plug those holes. our focus right now, the president's focus, is on the completion of that review, into implement his directive for corrective action as quickly as possible. we don't have any announcements other than that today.
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as you have heard, the president say, the buck stops with him. but the team understands that what john started is a dynamic process and we talked about that in here yesterday. that will continue over the course of the next 30 days and then long after that to ensure that what has been outlined by all these different agencies in acknowledging their responsibility for the attacks. what they have acknowledged that they will take the corrective action that's necessary. i would also mention the billion dollar it is president mentioned, his remarks about technology was contained in the recovery act. >> to mr. brennan, the president kept referring to certainly at one point referred to unknown terrorist. my understanding he was a known extreme first. was he a known terrorist? what was the most shocking, stunning thing that you believe
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came out of the reviews? >> as far as being a known terrorist, we knew that mr. abdullah -- abdulmutalla about had the tendencies. we did not map up the two that intelligence about the individual who was a terrorist and who was nigerian. and with mr. umar farouk adulmutallab. what we knew about this other plot developing and the individual involved in that was, in fact, a terrorist. >> a known alleged terrorist known after the fact. known extremist. >> a terrorist now. >> what was the most shocking, stunning thing that you found out at review and secretary, you as well? >> it is an extension of al qaeda core coming out of pakistan. in my view, it is one of the
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most lethal, one of the most concerning. the fact that they had moved forward to try to execute this attack against the homeland, i think that demonstrated to us that we had a have a siegic sense where they were going. we didn't know they progressed to the point of launching individuals here. and we have taken that lesson and so now we are on top of it. >> following up on that, not just the determination of al qaeda and al qaeda peninsula, but the tactic of using an individual to implement an take as opposed to a large conspiracy or multiperson conspiracy such as we saw on 9/11, that is something that affects intelligence and really emphasizes now renewed importance on how different intelligence is integrated and oob liesed and threat streams are followed hue. through. it will impact how we continue
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to review the need to improve airport security around the world. >> was there an outside contractor used for security in amsterdam? also, you don't give the motivation of why. >> the screening was done by dutch authorities. and they -- they did the screening that was described to you earlier this afternoon. the hand luggage was screened. the passport was checked. he went through a magnometer but done by dutch authorities. >> what's the motivation? you never hear. >> al qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and slaughter of innocents. what they have done over the past decade and a half, two
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decades, is to attract individuals like mr. abulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. he was motivated by a sense of religious, sort of drive. unfortunately, al qaeda has islam and corrupted the concept of islam so that the -- has been able to attract these individuals. al qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death. >> you are saying it is because of religion? >> i'm saying it is because of an al qaeda organization that uses the banner of religion in a very proceed ver a corrupt way? >> to carry out attacks against the homeland. >> but can you explain why? >> can we clear up a couple of things? first of all, what was learned while the flight was under way, there had been a couple of stories suggesting that additional information after the flight took off.
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and that abdulmutallab would be questioned when he arrived. >> i will answer that one. his name did not appear on any terrorist screening watch lists. and so nothing pinged the keep him off of the plane. while in the air, customs in detroit has access to the entire tie database and we all know now that's the large mega-database it has 500,000-plus names in it. and they knew he had a ping there. so they were ready when he landed in detroit to question him about that ping against the database. the terrorist watch list but the terrorist watch list, terrorist screening watch list did not have his name on it. >> another question. why was director lighter allowed to take leave after the incident
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on december 23rd? >> i will take that. when the incident occurred on christmas day, a number of people came in to the -- their offices and focused on it immediately. i was in constant contact with him. throughout the afternoon and evening. mike leiter raised with me he was scheduled to go on leave to meet his son. he asked me whether or not he should cancel that trip. i asked mike whether or not he had a full complement of folks and whether his deputies would be in place. mike said he did. i said mike, no. you deserve this vacation. you need to be with your son. i was the one who told him he should go out there. the events that took place december 25th, review looked at what transpired before then. since then i think we have all sort of recognized that the government, intelligence community, homeland security community worked seamlessly well and in constant contact with one another throughout the period and week after the attack. >> when did we first know that
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aqap had intentions to strike the u.s. homeland? how early? >> in the intelligence we acquired over the last several years, it has been aspirational and said things and it has promoted a certain view as far as bringing the fight to us. but all of their actives, at least we were focused on, were happening in yemen. they carried out attacks against saudi targets, inside yemen and against u.s. targets. so it was aspirational. we saw there was this mounting drumbeat of interest in trying to get individuals to carry out attacks. that was the fragment information. and so in hindsight, it always gives you much better doesn't the see it, we saw the plot was developing but at the time we did not know, in fact, they were talking about sendpling abulmutallab to the united states. >> one followup. first recommendation is to a i signed responsibility on leads
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high priority. it just seems like that would be the basic premise of any intelligence. it seems so fundamental. i'm sure people wonder really that's a reform we need? >> what we have done so far since 9/11 is to really help to distribute information throughout the community and increased capability. there are a lot of different organizations involved. i think what we are trying do is make sure that as these threats develop and there are so many of them, it is clearly understood who has the lead on it. because most times, cia, dhs, fbi are working it. for keep one of the threats there is a lead and makes sure it goes forward. >> you mentioned the problems of intelligence sharing before 9/11. after 9/11, 9/11 commission report came out. it was all about connecting the dots. at that time there was a pledge by the intelligence community to do better on connecting the dots. i am wondering why from that -- not the pre-9/11 but from post-9/11 commission standpoint
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why dots weren't connected and when you say you are going to improve analysis, how is it going to happen this time when it didn't happen that time? >> second point first. analysis has improved. steadily. as i said, we have an amazing track record within the united states. intelligence community across the board as far as identifying these plots early, disrupting them and preventing those types of attacks. in every instance. so what we want to do is make sure we even raise that game even higher. as far as information sharing in those dots in the past before 9/11, you had dots in separate databases separated from one another and not connected from network standpoint. had you a husbanding of the dotsz by individual agencies and departments. we don't have that anymore. there is better interoperability. more places have access to more of those dots that come in. so that's the challenges making sure that we can leverage the access to those dots so we can bring it up and identify all of these threats. >> you mentioned -- president
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mentioned major investments forthcoming. there's billion dollars in stimulus. can we expect more investments beyond that billion dollars? and how will that get paid for? talk about raising airline security fees to cover some of the costs. >> i think it is premature to make those statements right now. i think that's part of ongoing review we will undertake. as the -- in the coming days and coming weeks. >> the major investments we -- more than a billion in the stimulus. more money that will likely be requested beyond. >> like i said, i think it is premature to put a number on it. but i will say that it is part of our review we will be making ongoing recommendations and to the president about what needs to do with domestic airports. don't lose sight of the fact he was screened at an international airport and it is the international environment we also need to work on. that's why we have undertaken this very rapid reach-out around the globe to say look, this is an international issue. this affects the traveling
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public of people in countries around the world. their safety, terrorists don't discriminate when they get ready to take down a plane. so that's a very important part of the ongoing process as well. >> are you going to take nonterror related questions? >> if there is time. >> he referred to the ft. hood massacre, strike one. i'm curious if you can explain to the american public why things have -- learned after ft. hood, yemen, cleric who has quite a visible role in advocating for terrorism. p didn't create within the intelligence community apparatus the higher sensitivity to the kinds of things also visible in abulmutallab case? how much does that disturb you? were you personally briefed by the prince of counterterrorism in saudi about the possibility of explosives being hidden in
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garments or clothing? did that get communicated to the system as well. >> about what else he might be doing here. a concerted effort to take a look what he may be trying to accomplish in the homeland. mr. abulmutallab was a much different story in terms of nigerian that traveled to yemen and then came over here. what it clearly indicates is that there is a seriousness of purpose in the point of al qaeda to carry out attacks here in the united states. whether they are reaching people through the internet or whether or not in fact they are sending people abroad. >> are you satisfied the intelligence community rose up and responded to what it learned about ft. hood in a way that worked or didn't work? >> absolutely. i think we have already taken those corrective steps. that's one of the things you may want to pause and say president obama directed several reviews of incidents. ft. hood as well as this. this one has been completed within two weeks time. lightning speed. in my three decades within the government, as far as being able
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to bring an issue all the way through to have reports we can take corrective action as soon as possible. we have done that with the ft. hood report and instituting those changes. we are doing that here. this is going to be the start of a process. within two weeks' time we have been able to identify, diagnose and now take corrective steps so we can assure this is not going to -- yes. i went to saudi arabia a week after that attack and able on work with the prince. see the place where the room where the attack took place and talked about the explosives used and concerns about it and we had serious concerns about it. that was an assassination attempt. we are continuing to work with the saudis and others about the types of techniques that are beingioused by al qaeda. i think -- we are trying to stay a step ahead. obviously they are looking at all these different types of techniques so they can defeat our security perimeter. what we need to do is continue to advance and evolve and that's what we are doing. >> mr. brennan, do you have any concern that the national
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security apparatus is being -- information it takes in? >> it is sue perfect. what this country able to do with the increasing amount of information and collection systems come in, in fact, i think you see that what happened last month in yemen, with our very good partner in yemen was able to actually address the growing threat of al qaeda there. because of the tremendous ability for us to be able to collect information and use it swiftly. i think the national security establishment is well served by the changes that have taken place over the last half dozen years and as well as what we are trying to do here in this administration to make sure we are able to use the information exists within the different stay that sets to address national security priorities. >> you said one of the most alarming things you found was strength of this al qaeda cell in yemen. what else is it capable did you
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find? or do you believe? >> as i said, they have taken a number of different paths to care why out an attack. this attack against prince, suicide bomber, concealed, within his clothes, explosive device that was very similar to the up with that was used by abulmutallab. they are carrying out attacks against hard structures, the embassy in 2008. a diversity there. there's several hundred al qaeda members within yemen. what we need to do is continue to work closely with the yemeni partners and other international partners to make sure we are able to drive al qaeda down within yemen because they do present a serious threat there but also abroad. >> why should this be such a surprise? why should this have been such a surprise? >> where they were able to bring a person into that execution phase, and actually put them on an airport coming here to the united states. as i said, that was one of the failures as far as we saw that this increased activity was
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taking place, but we were not focused enough on making sure we were able to identify whoever was going to be used to carry out that type of attack. >> have you learned anything that would suggest that this terror suspect specifically chose detroit perhaps to send a message to large arab american population there? when the president talked about i his concern about recruits of beingation tracted to al qaeda and their messaging, talked about wanting to have some special efforts to break those kinds of -- that kind of appeal, is there anything that you will be doing specifically in an area like michigan that has a very large arab american and muslim population? >> the department of homeland security has had outreach efforts into different populations.
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muslim american populations, somali communities across the united states over the last years. trying to build bridges. so that there's a good communication between us. even in the face of those that would distort a religion for terrorist purposes. we need to look strengthening those activities and also need to look at the whole issue of what is called counterradicalization. how to -- how do we identify someone before they become radicalized to the point where they are ready to blow themselves up with others on a plane and how do we communicate better american values and so forth in this country but also around the globe, how do we work with our allies, like the uk on this. major topic of conversation between us and the uk over the prior months.
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you are right to point out there is a whole related issue here which is -- how do we get into the process before somebody becomes so radicalized that they are ready to committed this kind of an act. >> did you find any reason to suspect that that particular flight was chosen because it was headed to detroit given the large yemeni and arab american population there? >> you know, i think that's within the perfect view of the criminal case and wouldn't be appropriate for comment now. >> this goes to madam secretary and mr. brennan. focussing on the international issue, yemen as well as africa, has -- since this attack has anyone from the yemen embassy or yemen ambassador come to the white house since the attack happened recently to talk to anyone about this? do you know? >> i can't talk about communication with the white house. >> we have been in regular contact with the yemeni
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government. the yemeni foreign minister will be coming here. so there have been a number of interactions with our people as well as with the yemeni official. >> the issue of extradition, the way i understand it, there is no extradition from yemen. is that an issue particularly with the -- reading of terrorists there? and extremists, is that on the table with the yemen government? extraditing them -- >> back here to the united states? in f will is a reason to do that, we will do that. >> alsome are saying that the focus needs to be placed on the continent of africa. the president talked about somalia. there are breeding grounds in africa where extremists from the afghan and pakistan are going to africa and there are fears it will spread into northern europe. have you or anyone here talked to the african leaders and is it appropriate to handle this kind of situation right now after the
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christmas attack? >> as i mentioned, we have already deployed high officials from our department around the globe and indeed, they will be going to africa as well. they need to be part of the solution. this is a global travel issue. not just as i said before the united states. so indeed, there's active engagement there. >> there are many different groups that have serious concern. al qaeda and east africa. we had an ongoing and robust dialogue with african leaders and as well as other done troes in the area. we see that as an area al qaeda preys upon. that they particularly are looking in africa for recruits. and this is something we are very concerned about following up. >> it is one of many elements of the u.s. government as far as the department of state and others who are engaging with
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african countries ask leaders in a way to address this issue from the standpoint of cooperations, security and assistance. >> is there any information that the government has been able to analyze now that you had prior to christmas but hadn't gotten to analyze yet that this is now fitting retrospectively into sort of explaining what had happened? >> there's a lot of information that's being reanalyzed and re-evaluated in light of this. because any type of incident like this, it gives us new insight into methods and other types of things. so there's scouring going on right now of all the different data sets within the intelligence community to identify and we are pursuing a number of leads as a result of that. >> can you tell us about any of those? >> is what was released today to us a greatly redacted version of what is presented to the president and does that explain the delay? >> as i said earlier, part of the delay is classifying complex
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document and we apologize for the delay. >> is the system or ready in place if the father would have -- went to the embassy, similar situation today, would a ping immediately happen? would the cross tap come up with the fact that a person had a visa? isn't that one of the things you are talking about? i'm wondering if the fix is already installed and to secretary in tan owe, since there aren't body imaging prints all over the world, i take it that pat-downs might be used. what do you say to people squeamish about personal privacy being invaded and body searches? >> well, obviously, as we move to strengthen security, we also always have this balance to be struck with issues about personal privacy.
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here in the united states, we train officers on how to properly conduct a pat-down. they do it other countries around the world as well. part of the initiative that we are undertake sing to make sure that that kind of training and capacity is built in continents around the globe. you are right. it is likely in addition to the things i listed that there will be increased use of pat-downs as well. >> i'm confident that we have taken a variety of corrective measures that would have allowed us had we taken them before to identify mr. abulmutallab as an extremist. particular there national counterterrorism center has been working day and night since this december 25th attempted attack has been scouring ought of the databases, databases, to make those correlations. i'm confident that they have
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done that very thoroughly. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> there it is. briefing from the president's homeland security secretary janet napolitano and counterterrorism and homeland security adviser john brennan. making several important points trying to go into more specifics earlier we heard from the president on a systemic failure to connect the dots. that could have prevented that attempted terrorist attack over detroit on christmas day. and now we get more specifics from the two adviser. one thing very interesting. we have our panel of national security and homeland security experts, best political team on television. peter bergen, what struck me and i'm sure struck you as well in read thing summary, this declassified report that the white house has just released, is that before the attempted bomb plot on christmas day, they had information, the u.s. government, that abulmutallab was, in their words, a likely operative of al qaeda and
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arabian peninsula and that al qaeda and arabian peninsula was a part of the core al qaeda which is either in afghanistan or pakistan or along the border. where owe sam banl is hid osama laden is hide. >> that jumped out at me as well. abulmutallab was a known associate of al qaeda. i mean, that's pretty -- general jones' statement about shock when he read the document, we are seeing declassified version, that's pretty surprising. it is also very interesting john brennan said he went to saudi arabia and got a brief on precisely the same kind of bomb that was used in the noshtds west attack used on august 27th in the attack. >> what also struck me john brennan kept saying that the u.s. government knew that al qaeda and arabian peninsula had
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as purcha aspirational goals but no direct ability to do so until the failed attempt christmas day. that raises the question of what happened with major nidal hasan who was in connection nadal hsa also in contact with al qaeda in the arabian peninsula in the version of that u.s.-born radical cleric. >> that is right, wolf. two points here. one, we get the impression from john that they didn't realize that john, aqap in the arabian peninsula had moved from the business stage to the operational stage to deploy, and the question is, what did they miss in there which leads us back to point about major nadal hasan and the ft. hood shooting and we know there were connections with al awlaki before december 25th. so certainly, intelligence should have gone back the look
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at all of the communications al awlaki was having with others for leads frankly, wolf, to see if they could identify other operatives. john carefully did not answer that question. >> john brennan. >> yes, he carefully did not answer that question about al awlaki and nadal hasan and that will be left to be seen whether the intelligence community did go back and do that. >> there was not one or two attempted terror attacks in the united states involving yemen, but there was a third incident as well. >> right. which i would be scrubbing heavily which is the attack on the little rock, arkansas, military recruiting -- >> yes, and remind us about that. >> an african-american convert to islam and travelled to yemen and came back into the country in january of last year and on the fbi's radar and managed to pick up weapons and then kill an american soldier and seriously wound another. obviously the ball was dropped on that as well.
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what was he doing on yemen? he was not there on some conventional vacation. >> studying arabic. go ahead, gloria borger. >> we have a picture of huge information, and dots we are calling them, that was out, there and this report is very, very tough on the analysis, and says that those things were not analyzed, and says that the analysis, the information that was available was what this report calls fragmentary and embedded in a large volume of other data. so you can see that the analysts are sayingk how are we supposed to pick this needle out of the haystack and that needle out of the haystack? but in fact, they were not needles, and abdulmutallab's father going to the embassy was larger than. >> and the assistant fbi director tom fuentes, this briefing by the two homeland security adviser, and will it ensure the american public that the government is on top of the terror threats? >> that is a good question.
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one thing i would like to add is that the issue in reading the memo is about the watchlisting procedures of information already in u.s. databases or u.s. systems. not enough emphasis has been made on what did other intel services around the world have. now, as nic robertson reported, mi5 had investigated abdulmutallab, also, and determined he was a threat to uk and should not be allowed in. so my question is that that could have been the final trip wire to get him on the no-fly list if that had been shared. >> and quickly, david gergen, same question to you, what we heard from the administration and the president on down, will that reassure the american public that they are on top of the nation's terror threats? >> well, john brennan's breefg he -- briefing helped some, but not entirely reassuring. if customs officials in detroit could access this information and knew right away that they might have a problem, why aren't there customs officials in place
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in places like amsterdam who could access the information and stopped him from getting on the plane and that is one of several big questions that arise out of the briefing and this presentation. >> all right. we will continue to assess what is going on in an important day here in washington. we will go the detroit by the way, and this suspect in this failed attack, he is going to be arraigned tomorrow. he is going to go before a judge, and presumably plead one way or another, and we will go to assess what is going on. that is coming up. take a quick break and continue our coverage. jack cafferty is coming up as well. much more right here in "the situation room" right after this. some lunch.
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lots of information to digest and we are covering the breaking news and lots going on here in washington, but right now we are also watching what is about to happen in detroit. a lot of people say he is the newest face of terrorists bent on killing americans. the attempted bombing suspect is scheduled to make the first court appearance tomorrow. we go to cnn's deborah feyerick to set the scene for us. what do we know? >> well, what we know, wolf, he will be here for an arraignment and a detention hearing. he is charged with using a bomb as a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to blow up a u.s. jetliner and attempting to kill all 198 people on board. he will be in court tomorrow, and a very heavy police presence around this area expected at that time. now, we are also learning from a source briefed on the
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investigation that in detroit on christmas day, federal agents had actually flagged abdulmutallab's name in a routine database analysis and then agents from the customs and border protection were actually able to meet and interview abdulmutallab when he got off of the plane, and clearly that did not happen, because he detonated the device on approach into the airport. we are also learning that under investigation is hue he became radicalized and one of the ingredients used in the device is tatp which is an ingredient known by known terrorists who have been radicalized or acting individually. we are told by a top yemeni official that in fact abdulmutallab did meet with a radical american-born cleric anwar awlaki who is rock star of the internet to radicalize young muslims, and they did meet outside of the capital and not clear when the meeting took
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place, and we know that abdulmutallab was there from august to december of 2009. we are also told that al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, when they took credit for this plane attack that they cited an attack that had been carried out by yemeni forces with u.s. support, and it was believed that during that attack anwar awlaki was killed, but again, that is unclear. he will be here in court tomorrow, abdulmutallab. wolf? >> well, abdulmutallab, his health as far as the burns he sustain and what other injuries he sustained, is he okay to make that appearance? >> he is being treated. he did receive second and third degree burns and he was in the hospital for a while. his lawyers said he may require skin grafts, but right now, no recent update on the medical condition. >> deborah feyerick, and we will check back with you, thank you very much. happening now the breaking news we are following. president obama declares that the buck stops with me, and says
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it and spells out ways that the united states can better track and stop terrorists. this hour, we will have in depth coverage of the president's new response to the failed christmas bombing, and his demand for accountability. we are continuing our coverage of the breaking news. also, how will all of the changes affect you, the flying public, the next time you want to board a plane? from the president's renewed declaration of war against al qaeda and the growing threat in yem yemen, and we are going there. >> and with terror weighing in on the white house, will the president's domestic agenda suffer? we are looking at the other issues demanding his attention right now. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, and you are in i'm wolf blitzer, and you are in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- president obama says no one person or department is to blame for america's closest brush with airline terror in years. he says that when the system fails, it is his responsibility,
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and he is suggesting that no one will be fired at least for now. you heard the breaking news from the president live here on cnn. in "the situation room," and we just wrapped up a briefing with members of the national security team. there is a lot to digest, to assess, about what went wrong, what can be learned from all of this, and how the administration is trying to fix the problem. our analysts and correspondents are standing by here in the studio as well as out in the field to help us to better understand what is going on, and how it will affect the lives of americans and others around the world. we have lots to digest, so let's begin the coverage with cnn's jeanne meserve, and our homeland security correspondent. actually, jeanne, standby for a moment, because before we get to you, i want to replay a little bit of what the president had to say earlier, just a little while ago. >> a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community and in which together could have revealed that
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abdulmutallab was planning and attack. third, this in turn led to shortcomings in the watchlisting system which resulted in this person not being placed on the no-fly list thereby allowing him to board that plane in amsterdam for detroit. in sum, the u.s. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had. >> president also went out to lay out intelligence and security reforms, and we will go over those at length, and we will assess what he exactly said. he was most passionate though in talking about the al qaeda threat and how he didn't want to be distracted bipartisan finger pointing. >> we will measure progress and
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john brennan will report to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. all of these agencies, and their leaders, are responsible for implementing these reforms, and all will be held accountable if they don't. moreover, i am less interested in passing out blame than i am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. for ultimately, the buck stops with me. as president, i have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility. over the past two weeks, we have been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our disruption. while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands. we are at war. we are at war against al qaeda. a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11 and killed
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nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. we will do whatever it takes to defeat them. we have made progress. al qaeda's leadership is hunkered down. we have worked closely with partners including yemen to inflict major blows against al qaeda leaders and we have disrupted plots at home and abroad and saved american lives. we know that the vast majority of muslims reject al qaeda. but, it is clear, that al qaeda clearly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations and not just in the middle east, but africa and other places to do their bidding. that is why i have directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits, and that is why we must communicate clearly to muslims around the world that al qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, and including the murder of fellow muslims. while the united states stands
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with those who seek justice and progre progress, and to advance that progress we have sought new beginnings with muslim communalities around the world and one of which we engage with mutual interests and respect and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share, to get an education to, work with dignity and to live in peace and security, and that is what america believes in. that is the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists. here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as americans, because great and proud nations don't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. that is exactly what our adversaries want, and as long as i am president, we will never hand them that victory. we will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women, and children. in this cause, every one of us,
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every american, every elected official can do our part. instead of giving into cynicism and division, move forward with the optimism and confidence that defines us as a unity of people. it is not a time for partisanship, but it is zenshfo citizenship, and to come together to be strong in the face of violent extremism. that is how we will prevail in this fight. that is how we will protect our country and pass it safer and stronger to the next generation. >> all right. so the president of the united states making his point. we go to the homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve. jeanne, some specifics announced by the presidents, but more announced by the homeland security adviser and homeland security secretary. >> yes, the visa process and the watchlist process, and the screening technology and analysis, and wolf, we have learned a lot since christmas about how the system failed to
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detect umar farouk abdulmutallab. today, we learned new details that they knew the concerns of the father, and that his son had become radicalized but they did not know he had a valid visa, because a initial search had misspelled his name, and second, it was revealed that the national counterterrorism center and cia responsible for watchlisting did not search all of the available databases to uncover additional derogatory information that could have correlated with abdulmutallab and put him on a selectee or no-fly list. third, a series of human errors occur and delayed dissemination of intelligence report and faulty database searches which we mentioned misspelled his name. and information technology within the counterterrorism technology did not enable the correlation of data that would have enabled the analysts to highlight the relevant threat information, and john brennan,
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the president's top intelligence at visor said that the intelligence community did not understand before christmas day that the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula had shifted their focus and increased their abilities. here is what he had to say. >> the intelligence that we have acquired over the past several years has been rather aspirational and said things and it has promoted a certain view as far as bringing the fight to us, but all of the activities at least that we were focused on were happening in yemen. they carried out attacks against the prince in saudi arabia and inside of saudi attacks and in yemen against u.s. targets. it was aspirational and we saw a mounting drum beat in interests to try to get individuals to carry out the attacks, and that was the fragmentary information, so in hindsight now and in 20/20 hindsight will give you a better opportunity to see it, we saw the plot developing, but at the time we did not know in fact that they were talking about
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sending mr. abdulmutallab to the united states. >> mr. brennan says that corrective actions were made, and he believes if he was in the system now, he would be highlighted and found and brought to the attention of intelligence officials. back to you, wolf. >> thank you jeanne. we have a lot to digest. take a look at this video and watch it closely, because what you are watching is a disturbing security breach in one of the nation's busiest airports. it shows how a man walked past airport security, and police don't know this man, and the question is do you? our coverage continues after this. ( laughs, click ) when you hear a click, ( clicking ) you know it's closed and secure. that's why hefty food bags click closed. hefty! hefty! hefty! so you know you've helped lock in freshness and lock out air... to help prevent freezer burn. be sure it's secure with hefty food bags. just one click and you know it's closed.
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all right. let's get right to jack cafferty for the cafferty file. jack? >> democrats plowing ahead, wolf with health care reform and trying to iron out the differences of the senate and the house versions before the president's state of the union address in a few weeks. one of the biggest differences is how we are going to pay for all of the massive overhaul. president obama is telling the house democrats to drop their opposition to taxing so-called cadillac insurance plans. the house had wanted to increase income taxes on individuals making more than $500,000 and couples making more than $1 million. the senate backs taxing insurance companies on the higher end insurance plans. gee, do you think that the insurance companies would then raise their rates to compensate? yes. and then there are other disagreements about this, and a
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lot of them like the house democrats will have to drop the public option, and lot of liberals say it is not worth passing health care reform if there is not a public option. there are questions about the funding of abortion and still don't know how that is going to be addressed and if illegal aliens can be allowed to buy insurance with their own money and will they? or will the taxpayers continue to pick up that tab? meanwhile the democrats are short circuiting the process by not having a formal conference committee, and nay, nay, the whole thing is happening behind closed doors and out of sight of the american public and something that president obama promised several times would not happen. remember? here is the question. will health care reform help or hurt the democrats in the upcoming midterm elections this fall. go to and post a comment on my oblog. it is the old thing, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it. >> and it looks like they will get it, and you are right. good question, jack. thank you very much.
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we heard president obama say a little while ago that this is not the time for partisanship. he says this is the time for citizenship. we are taking a hard in-depth look right now at the security reforms he laid out when you heard him live here a while ago, live certainly or on the line. there are political stakes on the line as well. we will bring in our white house correspondent dan lothian, and it is a hard-line to walk, the politics of all of this, but the national security at the same time. >> that is right. and the president is being very careful in walking that line, and laying out today, really what we have heard over the last couple of days, wolf, and that is that there were gaps in the system, and bits and pieces of information out there, but that the intelligence community did not do a good job of putting it altogether. now, going forward as the president is talking about reforms, a lot of it one might argue should be sort of standard operating procedure for the intelligence community and they should more aggressively analyze the information that they have, get it turned around to the
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various different agencies in a more speedy time, but the president nonetheless saying that these reforms will help prevent what happened on christmas day. now, what was the most stunning thing that came out of the reviews? well, i posed that question to secretary napolitano and mr. brennan and take a listen. >> in my view, it is one of the most lethal and most concerning of it. the fact that they had moved forward to try to execute this attack against the homeland, i think that demonstrated to us, and this is what the review sort of uncovered that we had a strategic sense of where they were going, but we didn't know they had progressed to the point of launching individuals here, and we have taken that lesson and so now we are well on top of it. >> reporter: john brennan said that intelligence just simply fell through the cracks, and he said that he told to president quote i let you down, and i will do better. wolf? >> he did say that indeed. thank you, dan lothian at the white house. brian todd over at reagan international airport in washington, and he is taking a
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closer look at the security. i take it that everything that we heard from the secretary of homeland security, and from john brennan suggests that security is going to be beefed up at airports not only around the u.s., but around the world, when they engage in flights heading towards the u.s.? >> that is right, wolf. the stepping up of aviation security is a huge component of what the administration laid out today. it is a very ambitious plan, boiled down, here is what you will see. at least domestically in the united states, an acceleration of the deployment of law enforcement personnel and many more of them and air marshals are going to be deployed at airports across the country on aircraft flying to and from the united states. you will see a lot more air marshals and law enforcement personnel from across the department of homeland security deployed at airports. also, enhancing the criteria for placing people on the watchlists and no-fly lists and people of concern for security officials and they will strengthen the criteria for putting people on the lipss. a very important component of
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the plan is to get the enhancement of the screening machines and improving the technology in screening machines and deploying out more of them. secretary napolitano said right now they have 40 of these very high-tech body scanning machines deployed across the united states, and they want to put 300 more in place this year. that is an ambitious goal, but a key component of all of this, wolf, is to try to get other countries to adopt similar standards. i asked a former tsa administrator chad wolf how difficult it will be to get other countries to adopt similar standards such as the screening machines, and this is what he had to say. >> it is not a short-term fix, but long-term and maybe months or years when we talk about harmonizing technology and screening procedures. screening procedures can come shortly and the technology is a much more difficult process, but whether you are talking about the technology at the passenger checkpoint or technology screening bags. >> reporter: now as an example of that, chad wolf said that the ma enschoos used to screen bags
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overseas are of a different for math and different technology used to screen the bags here in the united states. he said a huge challenge will be to figure out whether you want to adopt similar machines here and overseas or use the different machines and adopt a common criteria or standard here, wolf, and that is some of the challenges they face. >> bottom line, get ready to come to the airport earlier when you get ready to fly not only here in the united states, but if you plan to fly to the united states overseas as well. brian is over at reagan international airport here in washington. it is the hug and kiss that triggered a major security scare happening at newark airport sunday night, and the chaos that followed lasted for hours and now the security of that breach has been released. our correspondent susan candiotti joins us. it is frightening how easily someone could get through the security perimeter. >> that is for sure, wolf. clearly, this video shows what led to all of the chaos. first of all, thanks to new
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jersey senator frank law tenberg and that is why everybody got to see the video, because he asked that it be released. let's get right to it. we will show you a man standing at the security checkpoint, and he is wearing a light-colored jacket. he is then approached by a tsa officer. you see it there who tells him to get back on the other side of the rope line. and then, about four minutes later, a tsa officer, the same one in a blue shirt walks away from the post. a homeland security official says he was distracted by someone who asked a question. there he is out of the screen. then about 30 seconds after that, with the desk unattended, you see a woman wearing a white coat, and she approaches the desk from the gate area, the secure area, and the man in question ducks under the security ropeline, and then he greets the woman with a kiss and a hug, and then the two turn and walk back into the secure gate area. authorities only found out about this by a passenger and then a
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mad scramble to find the man and they never did. two official sources tell cnn that tsa learned he left only after 18 minutes, he left using a normal airport exit. by that time the tsa was still running around trying to find its own security videos and you remember that they found out that their cameras were not recording, so they had to run over to continental airlines and that took about an hour and a half, and as we all know it took several hours to get things back to normal. thousands of passengers had to be rescreened, and they had to ground flights from leaving for a time. it was a huge mess, wolf. >> this individual and the girlfriend, they -- no one knows at least right now who they are, is that right? >> they have no idea who they are and they thought by releasing it, and making it public, someone might recognize them and bring it to the authority's attention. >> we will continue to watch the story. scary stuff when you think about it, susan candiotti working it for us.
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the president may try to show that he is actively acting aggressively against terror, but there are a lot of ther major problems on his plate. jessica yellin will take a look at that dilemma, also. al qaeda is having no problem recruiting in places like yemen, and does the white house need to rethink the strategy? our own john king and david gergen are standing by. with intuit websites. just choose a style, then customize, publish and get found. sweet. get a 30-day free trial at we're on the verge of historic reform, a major step forward for america. let's make sure the health care bill is as strong as possible. under the house plan, we'll be offered good coverage at work. and we won't pay a tax on our health benefits.
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you didn't say i could have a real one. well, you didn't ask. even kids know when it's wrong to hold out on somebody. why don't banks ? we're ally, a new bank that alerts you when your money could be working harder and earning more. it's just the right thing to do. the suspect in the christmas day airliner bomb plot has been tied to extremists in yemen. our cnn national security correspondent paula newton has been digging into the background of umar farouk abdulmutallab. and what are you finding out, paula?
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>> well, yemeni officials confirm to us what we have been hearing from the sources on the ground, and that is that anwar awlaki, the american, in fact, wolf, who is called the internet shaikh did in fact meet with abdulmutallab. that is new information, but american officials tell me that they are still not clear exactly how they met, where they met, and what they discussed. but wolf, we heard john brennan say they did miscalculate about what was going on in the country with operatives likeawlaki, and he may represent the first breakout group from the arabian peninsula to terrorize the united states with some of the new recruits. >> what are you learning, paula, about the explosives that the nigerian took aboard the plane? >> well, that is an important trail in this investigation, and yemeni officials are saying, look, we believe that the
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explosives came from nigeria, but the american officials are saying that it is way too early for that determination, and they are saying that the yemeni officials are jumping the gun, and they believe that the most likely place that those explosives were found were here in yemen given to abdulmutallab by al qaeda. >> paula newton with that disturbing report, and she is one of the few western journalists in yemen right now. fredricka whitfield is monitoring other stories in the newsroom. >> well, wolf, they say that a suspect in a workplace shooting is dead. at the abb manufacturing plant in st. louis three people are dead and five others are cr wounded. he is a person from a group of employees suing the company before a judge. and senators john mccain and joe lieberman are defending missile strikes there as critical in the war in
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terrorism. the u.s. military uses unmanned predator drones to gather information and launch strikes on suspected terrorist targets in that region. drone targets killed at least 13 suspected militants in pakistan yesterday following last week's deadly suicide attack on a cia base in afghanistan. and activists converge on the new jersey state house as lawmakers there took up a vote on legalizing gay marriage today, but state senators shot down the bill. gay rights advocates had pushed hard to try to get the measure passed before the incoming republican governor is sworn in later this month. new jersey currently offers civil unions to gay couples. wolf? >> fredricka whitfield, standby, and we are getting back to you. president obama is showing new determination to deal with lapses in homeland security, but he has a whole range of other pressing items on the agenda. we will take a look at the
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juggling act and whether he can pull it off.
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happening now, president obama issuing a tall order to the intelligence community, analyze and integrate before anyone else falls through the cracks. and the president is urging now is not the time for partisanship, but for citizenship, his words, ultimately shouldering the blame for security shortcomings. i'm wolf blitzer e, and you are
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in "the situation room." more on the breaking news this hour, president obama ordering a series of reforms in response to the failed airline bombing on christmas. they include tougher rules for putting people on the no-fly list and wider distribution of intelligence reports. while the president shows he is trying to act aggressively against terror, he has other pressing problems that need attention and need that attention right now. our national political correspondent jessica yellin is joining us with more on this part of the story. jessica? >> well, wolf, president obama has a chock-full agenda and now the christmas terror scare is forcing him to refocus and that does not mean that the domestic agenda is in critical condition, but it creates a serious complication, so here is a diagnosis of where the president's agenda stands. on health care reform, you could say it is in stable condition, the house and the senate versions will be merged, and democrats want a vote by early february. okay. the debt limit, and that means
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raising the amount of money that the u.s. can borrow, and we are saying it is in serious condition, and the house has voted to increase it, and the senate is next, and we say serious condition, but it is politically uncomfortable issue for the white house and now it comes up right before the state of the union and stepping on the president's message of fiscal responsibility. job bill, and stable condition, because the house passed its version and now over in the senate, and they would like to vote on this by the end of february. financial reform, okay, the house passed its version, but the senate, wolf, they have a different version and the senate is trying to add in compromises that will win republican support, so we say the bill has a case of extreme swelling. serious condition. the democrats hope they can pass it by spring. on climate change, it passed the house, but good luck getting it past the senate and good luck to get the senate to vote on it. release date, maybe never. immigration reform, okay, the house wants the senate to suggest their prescription first, smart observers think
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that immigration reform could be a casualty of an over full agenda and they don't want to say it now, but the democrats may be forced to leave this one for the next session. and then, there is education reform. well, the house passed a version, but the senate is up next. how though can they possibly do all of this in one year? well, we will call this one, tbd. so here is the agenda items together, and it is a lot for congress to tackle all at once, and the big question is, will something have to move to the back burner. wolf? >> they would like to pass as much this year, because they are deeply concerned they won't have the majority or even if they will have the majority in the house and the senate next year, so they want to get it done this year. jessica, thanks very much. with al qaeda seemingly having no problems with recruiting in places like yemen, does the president need to rethink the outreach to muslim nations? with more on that we have john king and david gergen, our political analyst. david, you heard the president
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reaching out dramatically to the muslim world at the end of the remarks today, and will that have an impact? >> i doubt very much, wolf. the cairo speech had an impact. the inability to move forward on the middle east has slowed some of the momentum of trying to reach out to the muslim community, but it is very clear today from the briefings and the president's appearance that we have a serious problem in yemen and one of the big surprises out of this today is that we have been speculating that the real intelligence failure which surrounded this young nigerian when in fact we learned today that the bigger failure was to underestimate the power of al qaeda in yemen, recruiting and radicalizing this young nigerian and others. that, by failure to follow up on the clues we missed the picture about the nigerian, and the other thing that came out today, wolf, there is a real concern in the administration that arab
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muslims now in yes emen are reaching out to africans to black africans to recruit them through the internet, and this young nigerian is a prime example, but reaching out to other black, and there is a concern about the racial aspect of this, and where it is going, but you heard that with mr. brennan today talking about this outreach to africa. so, it is bringing in the broader muslim world. >> it is a good point. john king is here as well. and peter bergen made that point that the african-american convert to islam who went on the shooting rampage in little rock, arkansas, had been in yemen earlier, and don't forget about nadal hasan had a conversation with the cleric from yemen, so the alarm should have been long before christmas day. >> yes, and to echo that, i had a meeting with a ally of the united states and closely involved in intelligence sharing
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and it was a chilling message. he said that his government has decided to go back across the intelligence spectrum and say stop operating under the assumption that al qaeda is scattered and stop operating under the assumption that they cannot mount serious attacks like 9/11, but the point is to have a wave of attackers like 9/11, and a double-agent killing cia operatives overseas and the attempted bombing of a plane in united states has prove tone their intelligence services that al qaeda has found a new way to be attive and plan attacks and if you operate under the assumption they can't pull off the big ones, you are mistaken and they are going back over their assessments. >> and david, they are saying they have to go back to look at what is going on? >> and think have to share information, because this is a planetary-wide concern certainly among the western nations, because al qaeda is in so many
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countries now and has a whack-a-mole quailty about it. >> you will discuss this on "state of the union" sunday as well? >> yes, and we will have john mccain and joseph lieberman who are making the rounds of important countries in the war on terror as they would call it including afghanistan and iraq as part of the trip. >> 9:00 a.m. sunday morning. david, thank you to you as well. the president is not passing out blame for failure to intercept the airline bomber, but he is accepting responsibility. could that move backfire? the best political team on television is standing by.
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fredricka whitfield is monitoring the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. fred, what is going on? >> well, hello, wolf, and everyone. fbi agents have arrested two men who worked in afghanistan for the company formerly known as blackwater. the indictment handed down by a federal grand jury charges each man with two counts of secondary murder. the arrests stem from the shooting deaths of three afghan men in kabul last may. the men charged in the deadly ft. hood shootings almost had a hospital visitor yesterday. a man falsely claiming to be liz lawyer tried to pay him a visit, but the guards familiar with hassan's attorney turned him away and the man's name not released then said he was a doctor and removed from the premises. no charges have been filed. on capitol hill, some call
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it the cornhusker kickback and democratic senator ben nelson says he will support health care reform as long as all states get extra medicaid funding. nelson's home state has been promised similar funding, but nelson insists that nebraska won't get special treatment. if the deal falls through, he wants to relieve the states from paying the cost of medicaid expansion in 2017 and beyond. wolf? >> lots to negotiate still in the health care reform package. thank you, fred. the buck stops in the oval office. the president says he will accept responsibility for failures to keep an alleged bomber off of a u.s. airliner, but is that the right stance for him to take? the best political team on television about to weigh in.
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an investigation into the christmas airliner attack shows a chain of failures. president obama today taking responsibility, ordering a series of reforms. what are republican lawmakers on capitol hill saying? our congressional correspondent brianna keilar is standing by. what are you hearing? >> well, pete huckster hit the obama administration for a go it alone approach for dealing with terrorist attacks, and not just this bombing, but the ft. hood attack. and john boehner says that i am concerned that the president has yet to lay out a comprehensive strategy to fight and win the war on terror. he should start by reconsidering a series of troubling decisions that have made our nation less safe. he singles out the president's plan to close the prison at guantanamo and also to try 9/11 mastermind khalid shaikh
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mohammed in the u.s. so what you have is republicans accusing the obama administration of many missteps and painting a picture of a systemic weakness and not an individual incident and it is afterall, wolf, an election year and national security is a bigger strength for republicans than democrats, and it is what we are hearing from the republicans coming off of capitol hill. >> thank you, brianna. accountability and credibility and the president saying that the buck stops here in that failed christmas terror attack. we bring in our best political team on television. we bring in gloria borger, and amanda carpenter and roland martin. was the president wise to say that i'm responsible and the buck stops with me? >> yes, you spend time talking about this department or that department and you lose sight of what the point is. the president stepping up to the buck stops with me, and this is what we are going to do to fix the problem. that is what the american people want to hear. we don't want to hear the political nonsense of you did
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this or that. keep in mind, we had the same problems on the democratic presidents and republican presidents, and this is a problem where people don't want to share data and work with others, but we need our safety to be important and not turf battles. >> how does that play, amanda? >> well, orrin hatch did put out a statement blasting the president's briefing, and the changing culture in the intelligence agency over the years. but where the republicans will hit is the obama's willingness to classify them as criminals and not military combatants and keeping them in the military tribunals. this is something that the republicans want them to be treated as military combatants. >> and you heard liz cheney saying that the president is systematically making the country less secure. >> we have heard that argument, and clearly the president said
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today, the buck stops here and he was as angry as anyone. but what we learned in going through the process today and through the weekend is that the problem has changed. it is no longer turf battles. it is no longer information sharing. they are actually sharing the information. the problem is that they have so many dot, because think are also gathering so much more information that they have a difficult time distinguishing what is an important dot and what is an unimportant dot. >> and what is also an issue is the critical issue of spending billions of dollars and looking at the body scanners and eight years after 9/11 and we will send 150 out to the airports so the republicans and the democrats complaining were sitting on their butts. >> and jim demint voted against the body scanners. >> yes, and some members of congress regardless of the party have to say, wait a minute, and forget my own personal issues, but i have to keep the american
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people safe. and here is the important point, wolf, the american people have to stop whining and inconvenienced with body-checks and security checks and no, you want to be safe, you go through the rigors of security to keep us safe. >> and most americans look at this problem and say, listen, there is a guy who tried to blow up a flight on christmas day whose father approached the authorities with a warning and when he is arrested, he is given a lawyer rather than put through the military tribunal. i know that richard reid was also put through federal court, but it is a different world now and we have been at war for a long time. >> here is the intelligence problem, he approached the embassy saying that the son was missing. he wanted their son, and that he would, and

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer
CNN January 7, 2010 4:00pm-6:47pm EST

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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